Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Succulents Simplified by Debra Lee Baldwin: A review

Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care VarietiesSucculents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties by Debra Lee Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Succulents are described as the plants that drink responsibly. Requiring very little water in order to thrive, they are the perfect kind of plants for areas where water is a scarce commodity and must be conserved. There are likely to be many more such areas in the future. It is good to know that even in these circumstances, there are plants that we can grow successfully.

Debra Lee Baldwin has written a book that is a useful introduction to these trendy, low-maintenance plants. In Succulents Simplified, she gives advice about how to choose the appropriate plant for the site or the indoor project that you have in mind. She gives step-by-step instructions that can help the reader whether she has an acre to plant or is intent on filling only a few windowsill pots.

I enjoy succulents and have several pots around the house as well as a few in the garden. Over the years, I have learned through bitter experience that the worst thing you can do to these plants is to overwater them. I admit I have killed more than a handful in this way. Perhaps if I had had Baldwin's book to guide me, I might have been a better and more successful succulent gardener. Well, I guess I have no excuse in the future, do I?

I think the great appeal of succulents lies in their sculptural and geometric shapes. These are forms that blend well with modern design, but, in fact, they can accent almost any style, regardless of what your individual preference might be. I suspect that succulents, which are hot right now, will become even hotter in the future as more people come to realize just how easy and care-free they are.

For the crafty gardener, a category that doesn't really include me, Baldwin includes information and instructions for several projects. Things like turning a cake-stand into a planter/centerpiece for succulents. She also shows how to make vertical gardens with the plants or to create a topiary sphere. Personally, I prefer a more naturalistic look, letting plants grow naturally into their own space, but to each his/her own.

Baldwin's easy-to-follow text is illustrated with some beautiful photographs of these versatile plants. Most of the photographs were taken by her. The credits for other pictures appear in the back of the book.

She gives us a list of her 100 favorite plant picks for all uses and she explains how to care for them and keep them fat and healthy regardless of where you live. She is obviously well-versed on the subject and writes from a wealth of experience. Also, her enthusiasm for succulents is contagious and the humor with which she writes helps to convey that contagion.

This was a fun and interesting book to read and from it, I picked up several ideas for including succulents in my landscape and I am looking forward to getting to work on that. I am especially excited about the diverse colors that are available and that were shown throughout the book through the remarkable photography.

If you have an interest in succulents, this might just be the book to help you get started. And if you don't have that interest, it might be the book to give it to you!

(A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.)




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